Protecting our network, protecting you: Preventing illegal adult content on our network

April 14, 2021 | By John Verdeschi

Every day, our teams use a combination of technology and best practices to monitor and protect our network and all who interact with it.

Long ago, we established the rules and standards that govern the use of our payments network. Chief among these is that we do not and will not permit merchants to engage in unlawful activity on our network.

For all the investments we have made, there’s still more work to be done.

That’s why today we’re taking an even more active stance against the potential for unauthorized and illegal adult content. This starts by ensuring there are strong content control measures on sites where our products are accepted.

Enhancing requirements for adult content, preventing anonymous content

This month, we are extending our existing Specialty Merchant Registration requirements. The banks that connect merchants to our network will need to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.

You might ask, "Why now?" In the past few years, the ability to upload content to the internet has become easier than ever. All someone needs is a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection.

Now, our requirements address the risks associated with this activity. And that starts with strong content control measures and clear, unambiguous and documented consent.

Other updated requirements include:

  • Documented age and identity verification for all people depicted and those uploading the content
  • Content review process prior to publication
  • Complaint resolution process that addresses illegal or nonconsensual content within seven business days
  • Appeals process allowing for any person depicted to request their content be removed

Strengthening relationships, commitments

These additional requirements build on years of work from our teams, creating the processes, establishing industry standards and setting today’s foundation in place. It includes relationships with law enforcement and other groups like Interpol, Europol, the National and International Centers for Missing and Exploited Children, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, among others.

More recently, we added to our commitments through relationships with the Internet Watch Foundation and We Protect Global Alliance. Both of these organizations are leading the charge to fight sexual exploitation, protect the youngest consumers and make the internet a safer place for people of all ages.

The evolution of our registration programs is critical to ensure that we — as well as those who connect merchants to our network — understand who we are doing business with and what can be expected of their activities.

We’re committed to doing everything in our power to ensure only lawful activity takes place on our network. In the process, we also hope to improve content controls to benefit people with the greatest need for these protections.

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John Verdeschi, Senior Vice President, Franchise Customer Engagement & Performance, Mastercard